The Early Bird: Top New Releases Reviewed 7-13-18 – 7-19-18
If you are a pop rock fan you may be baffled how Tom Petty failed to put his lovely, soft swinging, smart as a whip “Keep A Little Soul” off his 1982 Long After Dark (a fair to middling affair). Perhaps it is just as well Petty left it in the vaults because it is even better as the first post-humus release, leading to the September 28th drop of the Petty and Heartbreakers box set (60 songs and deep) An American Treasure. The 1960s inspired pop rocker Petty is always the first choice and this hooky heartache turns on a crunchy riff but doesn’t overplay its hand at all. Remember Tom this way (Grade: A).
Wiz Khalifa is the rap equivalent of a bad blunt, ideas fall out of both sides. Still, if you want to hear the kush head, the 2011 Rolling Papers is where to start and his new release Rolling Papers 2 is the same early 10s words against the beat stuff, miles away from Mumble rap and a clearer, more playful version of his usual material, but with 25 songs and 89 minutes in length it goes on well past the point where your high is mellowed, even a song with Snoop Dogg, which should be Cheech And Chong great, is a bore. Four years after his last album, Wiz still has the popularity to make you assume this will open at # 1, without the songs to make you think it will stay their long (Grade: C+).
In his 11th year as a reggaetón star, Arcangel has released an album, Ares, significantly better than Bad Bunny’s and J.Balvin’s (both of whom appear on tracks) and as good as Troy Lanez -a rapper coming into his own quickly. Ares is reggaetón meets Latin trap, all that trebly high hat is there on the slower numbers, and has only collaborations with artists on his own label, and though it is too long for its own good, it maintains its stamina through to the end (Grade: B+). On the original Mamma Mia the cream of Abba’s output was reinterpreted by folks who had no business reinterpreting them. Same goes for Mamma Mia! Here we Go Again, but except for six of the 18 tracks, these are going deep into ABBA’s catalog while still with singers who have zero reason to be performing em (and Cher -who is Lauryn Hill in drag) (Grade: C). I trashed Dirty Projectors on stage earlier this year, and I stand by it, but Lamp Lit Prose is their best album work in five years, removing the taste of the bitter eponymous last album with sweet natured, beautifully modulated pop art (Grade: B+)
Over at singles, Alessia Cara’s gentle “A Little More” finds her in singer songwriter confessional mode (Grade: B+), Anderson. Paak may have peaked, he is still great and his beats are still as great as you’d expect from a drummer, and on “Bubblin'” he has Busta Rhymes joining him and Busta absolutely kills it on his verse… but he doesn’t have the melodic crossover skills he showed on “The Bird” or the thrill of a “Come Down” and is the worse for it (Grade: B). Eric Church was so great last year at Barclays, he forced naysayers to revisit, his latest, “Desperate Man”” is a stunningly arranged masterpiece of southern boogie (Grade: B+). Would be glamrockers and harbingers of Britrock the London Suede, start “Don’t Be Afraid Of Nobody Loves You” like T-Rex, but goes south once Brett Anderson starts singing, only to recover during the instrument break (Grade: C+). Twenty One Pilots are back post-breakthrough, “Jumpsuit” is a bluesy baddie (Grade: C) but “Nico And the Niners” is a better song, a rallying cry for a (the last we thing we need) dystopian future manic depressed (Grade: B-)
A Little More – Alessia Cara – B+
Bubblin’ – Anderson. Paak with Busta Rhymes – B
Ares – Arcangel – B+
Mamma Mia! Here we Go Again – Cast Members – C-
Lamp Lit Prose – Dirty Projectors – B+
Keep A Little Soul – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – A
Jumpsuit – Twenty-One Pilots
Nico And The Niners – Twenty-One Pilots
Rolling Papers 2 – Wiz Khalifa -C+